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Slow Cooking for Health

Ask my sister and brother if I can cook. As my husband. They are probably going to tell you no, she can’t. My mother, too. I usually concede the point. I am the person who, one time, made cupcakes and forgot to add eggs. The one who, two days ago, almost burned down the house boiling pasta. My biggest issue is patience and time. I don’t have much of either. And yet I am someone who absolutely hates prepackages, pre-made food. Fast food, especially, makes me so upset. Because as bad as I am when it comes to cooking my own food, I know it’s better for all of us in the long run.

It’s not all my fault. My husband is what I would call a picky eater. And then there’s my meat issue. I am not a vegetarian, but there are a whole bunch of meats that I can’t eat. I am allergic to pork; it makes me throw up. I won’t eat lamb or veal. Chicken has become iffy ever since I learned about the whole dipping in chlorine bleach thing. (Poultry providers take chickens and dunk them in a bleach water solution to kill germs. But as Consumer Reports found, the practice doesn’t work so well.) So we’re down to beef and turkey. I only buy organic, free-range beef, which gets crazy-expensive sometimes. And you can only eat turkey so often, you know?

My typical meal for the kids is turkey meatballs, pasta, broccoli and sweet potatoes. We’ll mix in some grilled chicken sometimes, maybe a chicken burger or two or, if I am feeling ambitious, a whole roasted chicken. Pizza is always a hit, especially if we make it ourselves. Steak is nice. For sides the kids like roasted red potatoes, carrots, corn, peas, summer squash (well, the little one likes summer squash), tomatoes, salad, and spinach if it’s concealed well. Me, I’d eat veggies every single meal if I could. But I know the kids need more sustenance than a big bowl of sauteed vegetables (summer squash, carrots, artichokes, spinach, broccoli rabe and whatever else I have on hand) tossed over pasta. Right? And so here I am: Trying to find ways to add more variety to our diets.

I remember eating so many things growing up. My mom made meatloaf, pork chops, steak pizzaiola, baked ziti, kielbasi, hamburgers, grilled chicken, whole baked chicken — and we ate it all. Tons of vegetables. Lots of different pasta side dishes. Mashed potatoes from scratch. Peas sauteed in fresh garlic. Escarole in oil. Spinach. Corn. We really had something different every single night. Thinking about this makes me feel even worse about my lack of imagination when it comes to feeding my family. And I can’t even say my mom had it easier, because she didn’t. She was a widow with three kids who worked full-time. You can’t get any sadder or a heavier load than that, and yet she cooked for us every single night. Sigh. I have to get off my butt and get motivated. Now where’s that cookbook…

This post is my participation in Real Food Wednesdays and Fight Back Fridays — two awesome campaigns to get people eating real food again. What’s your favorite quickie meal? Would love to hear more suggestions!

3 Responses to “Slow Cooking for Health”

  1. Christy says:

    No one ever accuses me of being a good cook either – I have occasional good meals but mostly it is hit or miss, but like you I know it is better for us! We have all sorts of restrictions between my picky dh and my kids and mine allergies. Sigh! I guess we just keep on trying!

  2. Karen says:

    I’m like you, in that I don’t have much patience, though I may have more time. My motto (even in healthy eating) is “Whatever is quick and easy works great for me.” As I learn more about good food, I feel easily intimidated by all the work it seems to involve. And though it does add up when mixed in with all the other daily stuff, I find that most of the things I do don’t take much time on their own. I’m blessed, because my family is easy to please. I just want to encourage you to keep on the “good food path.” You are loving your family in ways they may never understand. :)

  3. Shari says:

    I grew up eating chicken every single night- seriously. It sounds like I have as big of a repertoire as you when it comes to cooking dinners for my family (I have a few go to meals), but I am regarded as a good cook by my parents and siblings. That is probably because our frame of reference is not baked ziti and homemade sauce, it is chicken and just chicken. I don’t think it matters how complicated the meals are, just that they are healthy and bring your family together. Simple is good in my book.

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